On one side of the ring, stands concerned parents, emergency workers and of course, certain politicians – on the other side we have just about everyone else. Armed and equipped with celebrity spokespeople, statistical data and a whole lot of public support, Sydney’s lockout laws are again caught in the centre of cross-fire.
Thousands of people flooded the streets of Sydney’s CBD over the weekend, in protest against Sydney’s lockout laws. Organised by ‘Keep Sydney Open’, the advocacy group estimated a staggering 15,000 people attending the peaceful rally.
The crowds that gathered represented all walks of Sydney-siders; from students to parents, DJs to classical violinists and partygoers to hospitality workers. They rallied against staff-cuts, venue shutdowns, a lack of personal freedom and lost opportunities for young musicians.
The laws were enacted during an emergency sitting of Parliament in 2014, in response to the one-punch death of innocent Sydney youths, Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.
As part of the NSW government’s Alcohol and Drug Fuelled Violence Initiatives, changes introduced by the Liquor Amendments Act (2014) see Sydney’s current alcohol laws including a 1.30am lockout at venues in allocated areas of the city – including nightclubs, hotels and licensed bars – with no drinks purchased after 3am. A 10pm cut off time to purchase take-away alcohol and temporary 48- hour bans for troublemakers were also introduced as part of the amendments.
Backed up by statistical ammunition, spokesperson Dr Tony Sara, with a posse of nurses and emergency workers has called not only for the laws to remain in tact, but affirm that these laws should be extended.
‘This isn’t about stopping people from having a good time; this is about making sure that people get home safely at the end of the night’.
A new Galaxy poll shows that two thirds of NSW voters support these lock out laws, and that alcohol-fuelled violence has decreased by 32%.
Conversely, members of the public view these laws as the ‘Death of Sydney’ – protesters carrying tombstones inscribed with “RIP Sydney, 1788 – 2014, taken before its time.”
Sydney sider Natalie Juresic told news.com.au that,
“It’s now about reclaiming Sydney and that includes reclaiming our night-life from the demolition of small businesses, of musical creativity and of innovation in the hospitality industry.”
With a 40% drop in music revenue since the introduction of these laws, DJ Nina Las Vegas also tells news.com.au that,
“The ecosystem that allows Australia to produce some of the world’s most popular electronic acts are not possible under these laws”.
Protesters have also been critical of the exemptions to the lock-out laws afforded to the Star Casino and Packer’s Barangaroo project.
With Sydney’s lockout laws currently in review, the NSW government urges members of the public to have their say on the regulations. These opinions will be taken into consideration in the government’s final report, expected to be released later this year in August.
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